News / Africa

Morocco's New PM Vows to Continue Western Alliances

Morocco's newly-appointed moderate Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane (L) greets outgoing Prime Minister Abbas Fassi at the Justice and Development Party headquarters in Rabat, Morocco, November 30, 2011.
Morocco's newly-appointed moderate Islamist Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane (L) greets outgoing Prime Minister Abbas Fassi at the Justice and Development Party headquarters in Rabat, Morocco, November 30, 2011.

Morocco has a new prime minister after a moderate Islamist party won the most seats in parliament. The new civilian leader said there will be no change to the kingdom's long-standing alliances with Western powers.

After years in opposition, Abdelilah Benkirane's Islamist Justice and Development Party - or PJD - won more than one-quarter of the seats in a new parliament, and is now moving to form a coalition government with three secular parties.

The former physics instructor, 59, is a veteran of Moroccan politics, joining the Muslim Youth Organization in 1976 before leaving to help found the more-moderate Islamic Group Organization, which eventually became the PJD party he now leads.

Appointed by King Mohammed VI to lead a new government this week, Benkirane said he intends to put the Moroccan people first.

The new prime minister said government today should be ready to serve its citizens. It is those voters who elected the party to parliament and gave it enough seats to form a government, so he said the focus on citizens is now paramount, and state officials should realize that they are here to serve them.

Benkirane's party is a strong defender of the monarchy's “divine right to rule” and backs a continuation of the king's religious, security, and military authority against protesters from a group known as the “February 20 movement” who want many of those direct powers reduced.

Benkirane said the February 20 Movement is a social movement that was established to bring about change, and many of those changes were made in a July referendum. As the group continues, he said he needs to know what they want now. If those demands are reasonable, he said it is natural that the government will agree to them. But if those demands are not clear or logical, then they will have to discuss how else to move forward.

The February 20 Movement demonstrations were sparked by the political upheaval across North Africa. Several of July's constitutional changes brought about by the Arab Spring directly benefit Benkirane.

Morocco's king could previously choose any prime minister he liked. He must now select the head of the party that won the most seats in parliament. Both the prime minister and parliament also gained some new authority.

Political observers here say the moderate nature of his party and its deference to the monarchy means Benkirane's government is likely to maintain Morocco's long-standing alliances with Europe and the United States.

The prime minister says it is unthinkable to dismantle Morocco's historic alliances with the West, which remain based on many mutual interests. He says Morocco's relationships with France, Spain, Britain and the United States will not change.

Benkirane's party doubled its seats in parliament, in part, because it campaigned on reducing corruption, reforming education, creating more jobs, and raising the minimum wage in a country where nearly one-third of young people are unemployed and nearly one-quarter of the population of 33 million live in poverty.

Determined to move ahead with that social agenda, Benkirane said he is realistic that no meaningful change can be achieved without the king's consent.

The prime minister said individual liberties are an internal matter between Moroccans that are regulated by law. Religion is the king's prerogative, not of the head of the government. He says Moroccans must not forget that this is a monarchy, and the head of state is the king, not the prime minister.

Turnout for last Friday's vote was only about 30 percent. Benkirane said he understands that the political situation is “very tense,” and he is promising a “strong government that will give hope to Moroccans.”

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs